Fan Fridays: Sonic Studio

Fan Fridays: Sonic Studio

by July 20, 2018

For years fans have indulged on custom levels through the likes of mods, hacks and fan games. Though fun, it’s not always the easiest of tasks, making this hobby difficult for those without the proper skills or techniques. Enter LapperDev, a developer who aims to change this stigma, allowing fans of any sort to create their own zone with relative ease.

Sonic Studio is an ambitious project, bearing similarities to makers of years past. We sat down with Lapper to discuss what sets his game apart from the rest, and what to expect in the coming months. All that and more after the jump.

To kick things off, how would you describe Sonic Studio?

A fun bendy-simplistic-flexible Sonic level editor! No faff with premade chunks.

It’s not quite a “Sonic GameMaker IDE”, but it’s more involved than Mario Maker. Very customizable in the level design department.

Originally inspired by Sega’s Sonic Level Creator on PlaySega from 2010. I’ve made attempts in the past with different approaches. The release of Mania is what got the ball rolling once again.

Besides the obvious, what separates this game from the likes of Mario Maker?

Sonic Studio could be compared to Mario Maker in overall format, but that’s not the direct inspiration. The most distinct feature is slopes, you can create a level of any shape you desire! Any type of hill, loop and more. It straddles the line between game engine and level creator.

The level editing is rather in depth with many tools to create and edit shapes, layer switching, and ability to change the visual depth of any shape within a layer. Sonic games are pretty and SS levels can be too.

In SS you can’t build a fan game with your own assets (for those that want that – check out GameMaker Studio, MultiMedia Fusion, Construct 2, etc.), but there are tonnes of customization options built in, for both decoration and object functionality.

Most zones you’ve show are from Sonic 1, though we’ve also seen Sonic 2’s scraped Wood Zone. Does this mean we’ll be getting levels from other games in the series too?

There will be zones from all main three games, trying to place more emphasis on those which were not in Mania.

In an earlier preview we saw Marble Garden with trees from Green Hill. To what extent will we be able to mix and match zones and their themes?

As mentioned there will be some built in customization! For example, times of day for the stages, ability to choose what theme the decoration elements are (like placing a tree in Wood Zone, maybe you want to change it from a brand new Wood Zone design to that from GHZ)

How did you get into the series, and what game is your favorite?

It started out with Sonic 1, followed by 2 and 3 (even though they were all out before I was born). Sonic 1 I will always have a soft spot for and I appreciate it’s variety, even those like Marble and Labyrinth Zone. No more levels like that since!

Mania is a challenger though…

Making an easy to use editor isn’t easy to do. What have you found most challenging about designing Studio?

It’s been evolving a lot, even since I first showed it off. It’s been changing quite a bit, definitely learning on the job. I can go into some depth here.

I had the engine mostly ready before I considered the editor, initially an experiment to use line intersections for collision rather than something like sprite masks or tiles. Once I had that done, the editor naturally started to spawn. Now the challenge is the little details like breakable block particles, skid smoke, and gimmick interaction, etc, and overall getting everything feeling correct & solid.

Since the player can literally make any shape they like with few restrictions, the inevitable is that someone will make a crazy shape, and shove sonic into it at full speed or any number of crazy scenarios. Because of this it will never be unbreakable – however I’ve done my best to avoid soft-locks or anything too mad happening in these situations.

As for the editor, there’s nothing simple about it. Full closed bezier shape editing, shape drawing tools, layers, different ground visual surface options (like grass) which can be changed for each individual line on a shape, objects with many many attributes that can be changed, decorations with the same. A few people compare it to being simple and limiting like Mario Maker because there’s not a custom asset feature (and really can’t be). I wish I could make it as simple as drawing blocks in a grid, trust me!

With a GameMaker Studio fan game dealing with custom polygons and a full accurate classic Sonic engine, the biggest hurdle is not getting it to function – but rather getting it to function fast.

Thanks again for your time! I can’t wait to see what else comes out of this project. Anything you’d like to say to the readers back home?

You’re welcome! It’s the most ambitious fan project I’ve ever worked on. Currently single handedly (when it comes to the editor & engine), it’s a constant challenge but I love it. I have no planned release date, it’ll be out when it’s good & done! I’m always reading suggestions & support on Twitter @SonicStudioProj if you have a clever idea, and check out my art on @LapperDev as I’ll be posting more there soon.

And lastly:
I like to go to the Casino at Night, and Zone out.